Wry LA indie pop rocker stops in NH
It’s a story old as summer: a troubadour treks across the country, guitar in tow, playing wherever he can, emboldened by warm weather and no small amount of wanderlust. These days, a looping machine is usually packed with the merch case and sound gear in the Prius.
For Rees Finley, it’s an essential piece of equipment. Playing solo, he said in a recent phone interview, is a “challenge to overcome.” The LA-based indie rocker’s new album, A Tale Told By An Idiot, is an emo-limned romp with a big sound built around two guitars, bass and drums.
“I’ve always been in bands,” he explained. “My music is solo in that I’m the only person who’s writing it.”
Playing solo can be a lofty job, one Finley cheekily touched on in “The Band Broke Up,” a song from his first EP. “I’m afraid I’m not enough on my own,” he sings. “Did I lose my edge trying to do it all? I’ve been writing the gospel, but I’m John, not Paul.”
He’s doing fine, really.
Finley’s packing the gigs on a tour moving from his native Ohio to locations throughout the Northeast. “Playing a show every night all the way up until August 22,” he said. “Keeping very busy.” He has two New Hampshire dates – a dinner hour set at Hermanos in Concord on August 8, and a listening room show two days later at Milford’s Union Coffee Co.
Musically, Finley’s wide ranging, citing influences from his father’s Beatles albums to Prince – for both artistry and one-man band chops – along with 90s emo and punk rock basement shows seen as a teenager in his Midwestern hometown. “My desire to go from genre to genre is honestly that I just have a short attention span,” he said. “And I always find it interesting when I see an artist who is very eclectic and never repeats themselves.”
Finley cites his original song “Kill The Lizard” as a good example of where he’s coming from.
“It has synthesizers, computer elements, but also big heavy rock guitars and some country, blues influenced guitar work and funk stuff,” he said. “There’s a lot going on, and it’s also an example of a song where I played and wrote everything… every instrument you hear is something that I put into it.”
Growing up “obsessed” with music, Finley learned several instruments at a young age. By high school, he was wrestling with whether to attend Berklee College of Music in Boston or USC. Both accepted him; he chose the latter because it offered a major in pop music performance.
The goal was a school doing more than “100 year old classical music or jazz that you’re not going to hear on the radio,” he said. “I wanted to be able to work on contemporary stuff, and this was one of the only programs that could do it.”
By the time he graduated, Finley was immersed in the SoCal music scene, and he’s lived there since.
“The people that I met in school are the people that I continue to work with,” he said. “I think it has been really good decision for me to kind of position myself there, and the community has been really such a part of my life.” A CD release show in late June at the Peppermint Lounge was packed with friends, providing a nice sendoff for his nomadic summer.
He’s energized by the tour, which is taking him to many places for the first time. “I want to meet and reach new people that haven’t heard of me before,” he said. “I’m also am really excited about traveling and seeing a lot of America that I haven’t been able to check out before… seeing different walks of life. It’s really inspiring as an artist.” Even better is keeping it all about playing songs. “It’s such a blast to be able to really focus on being the best musician I can full time. Living in LA, I’m sometimes doing other things like teaching to help pay the bills. Being on the road, I really get to focus on performance. That’s been really great.”
When: Saturday, August 10, 8 p.m. | Where: Union Coffee Company, 42 South St., Milford | More: reesfinley.com
Also appears August 8, 6:30 p.m., at Hermanos Cocina Mexicana, 11 Hills Ave., Concord (226-2635)